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Red Cross Offers Ways to Stay Safe During Summer Heat Wave
Excessive heat can be deadly; it has caused more deaths in recent years than all other weather events.
When the dog days of summer deliver hot temperatures and high humidity, the American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region urges residents to take precautions against the dangers of the heat.
With temperatures expected to exceed 90 degrees in the coming days, it is important to remind people how to prepare. Make sure you know what to do and how to care for heat-related emergencies.
“Excessive heat can be deadly; it has caused more deaths in recent years than all other weather events,” said Cindy Erickson, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross. “We want everyone to stay safe during the hot weather and have some reminders for them to follow when the weather is hot and humid.”
How to Prepare
Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for the possibility of power outages.
Check the contents of your emergency preparedness kit in case a power outage occurs.
If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.
What to do During Heat Wave
Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.
Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
Eat small meals and eat more often.
Avoid extreme temperature changes.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
Postpone outdoor games and activities.
Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
Recognize and Care for Heat-Related Emergencies
Muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity.
Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy
sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
Move the person to a cooler place.
Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the
skin. Fan the person. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool
water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in
If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call
9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
Heat Stroke (also known as sunstroke)
A life-threatening condition in which a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself.
Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature.
Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
Move the person to a cooler place.
Quickly cool the person’s body by giving care as you would for heat exhaustion.
If needed, continue rapid cooling by applying ice or cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits.
Know the Difference
Excessive Heat Watch— Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
Excessive Heat Warning— Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
Heat Advisory— Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).
Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30. Reapply sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight. Protect the feet - the sand can burn them and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.
During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:
Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person.
Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.
The American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region is a proud member agency of the United Way, which makes significant investments every year in Red Cross services. United Way 2-1-1 reminds people to take care during hot weather advisories, warnings and emergencies. For information about potential cooling sites, call 2-1-1 or 1 (800) 427-4626.
DOWNLOAD FIRST AID APP Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross first aid app, which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at someone’s fingertips. It offers a great deal of information on preparing for the heat, as well as dealing with heat emergencies. The app is available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.
The Red Cross is part of the “All Ready” campaign, a unified effort among emergency preparedness experts in the bi-state region that focuses on the importance of individual preparedness. The campaign encourages the three critical steps of preparedness: Make a plan, Get a kit, Be informed.
About the American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region:
Celebrating 95 years of dedicated service in the region, the American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies. Thousands of volunteers and generous donors provide community support services including disaster relief, preparedness efforts, training in lifesaving skills, service to military families and blood services. The Greater St. Louis Region covers St. Louis City, and 72 surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois. All disaster relief services are free. To learn more about the Red Cross and how you can help, contact your local Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (733-2767) or visit redcross.org.